Why Marketing Automation is like Albus Dumbledore’s Pensieve

marketing automation harry potterAt Gabriel Sales, we like analogies.

Recently, we discovered a truly magical analogy for marketing automation coupled with a notable piece in the Harry Potter stories, Dumbledore’s Pensieve.

Dumbledore: “I use the Pensieve. One simply siphons the excess thoughts from one’s mind, pours them into the basin, and examines them at one’s leisure. It becomes easier to spot patterns and links, you understand, when they are in this form.

Here are five reasons why marketing automation is like Dumbledore’s Pensieve:

1.  It allows you to store large amounts of information without becoming overwhelmed.

When Harry Potter first asked Dumbledore what his Pensieve is, Dumbledore responds, “This? It is called a Pensieve. I sometimes find, and I am sure you know the feeling, that I simply have too many thoughts and memories crammed into my mind.”

When Dumbledore feels overwhelmed by too much information, he uses his Pensieve to unload important thoughts and memories in a safe place. Sales reps and marketers can use marketing automation to do the same in regards to the copious amount of sales and marketing related data they have to manage on a day-to-day basis.

2.  It saves important information in a place that is always accessible.

Once a memory is put into a Pensieve, it will always be available for reference.  This helps Dumbledore immensely in his battle against Lord Voldemort as he is able to recall key details from events that happened decades ago.

While marketing automation is not yet decades old, it can still be used in the same way. From the time you start using your marketing automation software, all data is recorded and saved for future reference. This can especially helpful in regards to prospect behavior and the increasing length of B2B sales cycles. It may take a year or more for a prospect to go through the entire buying process—making it hard to keep track of where they are in your sales cycle. Marketing automation allows you to go back and see the specific details of any digital interactions a prospect has with your company.

pensieve3.  It allows you to look back at the past to help make decisions about the present.

Similar to the last point, the Pensieve allows you to look at specific details about events in the past to enable you to make better decisions about the present. Harry faces an extreme example of this when, during the Battle of Hogwarts, he looks at Severus Snape’s memories and determines the best course of action is to sacrifice himself to save humanity.

Admittedly, there are no guarantees that marketing automation will help save humanity from evil. But, it may help save a deal (or ten). Marketing automation allows you to look back and measure performance of different activities like email campaigns and social media efforts—allowing you to see what is and what isn’t working and determine how to best optimize.

4.  You can take people along the journey so they can see for themselves.

One of the coolest things about the Pensieve is that you can use it to experience memories that aren’t your own. Harry does this numerous times during his lessons with Dumbledore to learn how to defeat Voldemort, and his experiences in the Pensieve become an integral part of his success.

Marketing automation platforms are like the Pensive because anyone in organization can be brought in to see for themselves what is happening or what has happened. For example, if a new sales rep is brought in, he can quickly bring up any prospect’s profile to see their most recent activity, marketing content score, most visited page views, etc. This gives him enough background to know exactly how to jump in and guide the prospect to the next part of the sales process.

5.  It is a way for you to observe experiences without people knowing you’re there.

When you are reliving memories in a Pensieve, you live them exactly as they were, and no one knows you are there. Harry first realizes this when he goes into the Pensieve and experiences the trials from the First Wizarding War—and no one notices his presence.

Marketing automation platform also allows you to observe behaviors without people knowing that you are observing them. It may sound creepy, but like the Pensieve, it meant to be helpful. By viewing the engagement your prospects have with various emails, marketing content and internal webpages, you can more accurately assess their pains and provide them with relevant and valuable content that addresses how to solve those pains.

If you’d like to read another fun analogy about marketing automation, read “Marketing Automation is Not What You Think”. Feel free to contact us with any questions.

3 Things to Add to Your B2B Blogs in 2014

b2b blogging in 2014By now, most companies in the B2B space are blogging. According to a 2014 marketing report, the percentage of companies adopting blogging as a B2B content marketing strategy went up 11% from 2012.

Because stuffing your blogs with keywords is no longer effective for SEO or sales, blogs in 2014 will continue on the trend towards more quality content. In addition to providing quality, here are three things to add to your B2B blogs in 2014 to help improve engagement and conversion:

1.  Videos

As we’ve written about previously, 2014 is going to be a big year for video marketing. In terms of blogging, videos can help extend the message of your written text into a visually engaging format.

There are several good ways to add a video to a blog. You can do a video-focused style post, where the video is at the top and the written text is a brief summary of the content that can be found in the video.  Some people may call this a vlog (video+blog). Another good option is to add a video to give an in-depth example of something referred to in the text. This is great when you are talking about something like a complicated technical process that can be better understood through visuals; and IT Business Edge recently stated 70% of B2B buyers view product demo videos before they select a vendor.

2.  Social proof

In the new, buyer-dominated world of marketing, social proof is only going to rise in importance. One reason for this is that buyers are trusting each other’s opinions more and more and companies’ ‘opinions’ less and less.

In blogs, there are several ways you can demonstrate social proof. The first is attaching social sharing buttons to each post; you can see an example of this at the top of this post. You can also post blogs with customer testimonials or reviews. This allows your customers tell your story for you, and is a great way to help build trust early on in the sales cycle.

3.  Second-stage content

For the most part, B2B blogs are pretty basic and can be easily scanned through in a matter of minutes.  If your blogs are being used for brand awareness, early stage education lead generation, shorter and more basic blogs make sense, as you do not want to overwhelm your reader early on.

However, for both SEO and sales strategy, you may want to consider adding more in-depth blog content every once in a while. In regards to SEO, while the old ‘keyword’ focused Google algorithm sometimes rewarded short, keyword-dense blogs, the new Hummingbird algorithm is geared toward finding more quality, in-depth content. If there is something happening in your area of expertise, write a feature type article on it rather than a 300-500 word summary.

In terms of sales, having more substantive second-stage blogs can help with conversion. Because many B2B buyers now like to take themselves through the entire buying process on their own, they will thank you for giving them the detailed content that allows them to do that. If a prospect can find everything they need to make a buying decision on your site (educational content, product comparisons, technical demos, details on the engagement process, testimonials, etc.), they may not have any reason to look at other options.

For more tips on B2B blogging, read, “B2B Blogging – Why It’s a Double Win”. Please feel free to contact us with any questions.

A Twist on Selecting a Marketing Automation Platform

hand pushing on a touch screen interfaceAt Gabriel Sales, we have a slight twist on selecting certain types of software and platforms. We look closely at how the tool can be easily and most effectively used by a sales team and not just the marketing team. When selecting a marketing automation platform to be used by a sales and marketing team, here is some of the criteria we recommend you consider from the sales users’ perspectives:

Is it simple for a sales rep to login and know exactly where to go?

This is a bit of a no-brainer for software design in itself, but our experience with marketing automation software demonstrates that a lot of features may be clear and easy to use for the marketing team while the sales team is vastly overlooked.  Look for software that is easy to use from your sales users by having them attend demos and ask questions pertinent to how they do their jobs.

How easy and versatile is the automated alert system?

It’s imperative that sales reps are notified real-time for certain prospect events and daily/weekly/monthly for others. Having a diverse set of alert options (email, SMS, desktop and mobile apps) will help your team have the fastest response time to your prospects.  Data has shown that responding within an hour of inquiry increases conversation rates by 7x (Source). As an example, having a drip campaign sending automated scheduled emails that will then alert sales users when a prospect has interacted with an asset in the campaign where that interaction shows a buying signal.

How clear are the methods and accessible are the variables that can be segmented upon?

A sales rep wants to use their time efficiently and being able to group prospects into well-defined segments makes their job much easier.  Want to call on everyone who has a score of 100+ that visited the site this week AND went to the pricing page? Should be a straightforward process to get that list.

How does lead scoring work?

Scoring needs to be flexible and comprehensive.  A sales rep wants to be able to see the aggregate score and the specific activities and their respective score. They may not always understand the logic behind specific scoring, but if they are able to see that a video playback was scored at 50, they know that the video itself is a high value activity and a signal to the prospects interest level.

Is prospect activity tracking thorough and easy to understand?

Sales reps want to be able to understand what the prospect is interested in to best modify one-to-one interactions. Having marketing automation software that has a large collection of different activities it can track is imperative for best understanding specific interests in both content and content types. Does Prospect A watch a lot of videos? Send more videos in the follow-up. Is Prospect B interested in the features, create some quick clips on highlights of those features.

What processes can be automated to keep the sales staff productive and not breaking momentum?

Sales reps want to stick with their highest importance activities and not get caught up in dealing with too many steps to record and follow-up with new prospects. Having a systemized process that makes it dead simple to manage alleviates huge headaches and bottlenecks for sales reps doing their best work. An excellent example of this is building a form that the sales rep can complete (that does not set a cookie) that then triggers a series of activities including 1) sending an email, 2) adding to a nurturing campaign and 3) notifying sales executives of next steps.

This is not an exhaustive list of features to consider when selecting a marketing automation platform, but it is a list of the major features we’ve identified as a collaborative sales and marketing team that will optimally support your sales team.

Get Your CEO Out of the Way of Your Sales Process

Man in suit in gray backgroundFor many B2B companies, a gigantic sales staff is not in their arsenal. This is understandable; many B2B companies are small and have to stretch the resources they do have. Because of this, the CEO sometimes ends up taking on the role of the entire sales department, from the junior rep who does cold calls to the senior executive that closes.

From our experience selling B2B products and services for the past 13 years, we have found that there are several issues with this approach.

It may seem like a good idea to have your CEO selling through the entire sales process, as he knows the most and is the most senior. But in reality, he does not belong selling at the front of the pipe. It is like walking through the front door of a business and seeing the CEO sitting at the receptionist desk. It just doesn’t feel right.

This is because selling this way creates issues with perception. If your CEO is the first person a prospect interacts with at your company, he or she may be left wondering, “Is there no one else working there that can take my call?” or “Why isn’t someone else doing this?”

Additionally, this practice is inefficient in regards to business. If your CEO is selling to every prospect that comes in the pipe, he is going to spend a lot of time selling to people who are simply kicking tires. Because your CEO is your highest value employee, having him sell to people who are not really interested equates to a lot of time and money wasted.

The reality of B2B sales today is in the early stages of the sales process, prospects simply want to know you understand their problem as they explore their solution options and short list preferred vendors. When a prospect is new to the sales pipeline, they may be quite overwhelmed by their problem. A senior executive may exacerbate this feeling by speaking beyond the prospects grasp of the issue, moving to quickly or just creating an environment where the prospect is overwhelmed with jargon, numbers and statistics. Regardless of the situation, no one likes to feel like they are way behind.

Here are our suggestions for an alternative approach:

  • Hold your CEO back in the early stages of selling and use his expertise and passion as a closing tool.
  • Clone your CEO’s early-stage sales efforts into digital content that can be shared one-to-many by more junior employees
  • Use your CEOs expertise when other executives are at the table who are peers and speak the same ‘language’

This approach does several things. First, it increases your bandwidth for selling by enabling you to engage with many people simultaneously. It also allows you to determine what parts of your sales or marketing process are working and what aren’t. Finally, it allows your highest value employee to focus on your highest value activities—closing, delivering and growing the business.

For more B2B sales tips, read “3 Reasons Your B2B Sales is Failing”. Please feel free to contact us with any questions.

Why You Should Leverage B2B Video Marketing in 2014

b2b video marketing 2014If you’re in B2B, it is likely you know by now that ‘content is king’. But, what kind of content is going to be king in 2014? We think it is video.

Why? Here are three reasons:

1.  It translates to less work for you.

One of the best ways to leverage B2B video marketing is to clone your top producers.  By digitizing your early-stage sales pitch into video format, you no longer give that pitch over and over again every time a new prospect comes down the pipe. You can just send each new prospect a link to your pitch video, saving you the many hours you spend pitching to only vaguely qualified prospects.

2.  It’s science.

According to Dr. Susan Weinschenk, also known as ‘the brain lady’, there are hardwired biological and psychological phenomenon that make video a more engaging and persuasive format than text. Weinschenk gives four reasons for this:

    • The Fusiform Facial area makes us pay attention to faces
    • Voice conveys rich information
    • Emotions are contagious
    • Movement grabs attention

~Watch her detailed presentation on the topic here

When presenting information in video format, the experience your prospect has is multi-dimensional (auditory and visual) and therefore deeper than the experience of a purely auditory (podcast) or purely visual (blog post) format. Because emotional connection plays such a large role in B2B sales, anything you can do to create a deeper or more emotional experience is good.

3.  It’s measurable.

The importance of measurement and analytics is growing rapidly in B2B with the advent of marketing automation platforms and sales technologies along with the rise of customer relationship management. Videos are great for measurement and ROI reporting because they are easily trackable. Some video hosting platforms (like Wistia) allow you to not only track views, but also how long prospects are watching each video. In the case that most of your prospects stop watching at the one-minute mark, this will help you know when and how to refine your message.

For tips on leveraging B2B video, you can read our Tips for B2B Video Content Marketing. Feel free to contact us with any questions.